Loreen from Sweden wins Eurovision Song Contest in Ukraine for the second time

LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Swedish singer Loreen Win the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday night with her power ballad “Tattoo,” at a colorful, eclectic music competition clouded for a second year running by the war in Ukraine.

The diva from Stockholm beat acts from 25 other countries to take the continent’s pop crown at the final of the competition in Liverpool. Finnish singer Käärijä was second in a close-fought battle of the Nordic neighbors.

Loreen, 39, previously won Eurovision in 2012 and is only the second performer to take the prize twice, after Ireland’s Johnny Logan in the 1980s. It’s Sweden’s seventh Eurovision victory, matching Ireland’s record.

“I am seriously overwhelmed,” Loreen said. “This is so beautiful.”

She said returning to the contest that helped make her a star was “like coming back to a family. We’ve had an 11-year-long relationship. We know each other by now.”

Britain hosted Eurovision on behalf of Ukraine, which won last year but couldn’t take up its right to hold the contest because of the war. Air raid sirens sounded across Ukraine as the contest was underway, and Ukrainian media reported a strike in Ternopil, home town of Ukraine’s Eurovision entry, Tvorchi.

Under the slogan “united by music,” Eurovision final fused the soul of the English port city that birthed The Beatles with the spirit of war-battered Ukraine.

Opening with a short film, which showed the Ukraine countryside and its sounds, the show featured a variety of sights and sounds. 2022 Eurovision winners Kalush Orchestra singing and dancing in the Kyiv subway, with the tune picked up by musicians in the U.K. — including Kate, Princess of Wales, shown playing the piano.

The Liverpool Arena saw the folk-rap act emerge on a pair of giant outstretched arms, accompanied with a mass of drummers.

In an Olympics-style parade of flags, contestants from 26 finalist countries entered the arena, accompanied live performances by Ukrainian acts such as Go A. Jamala, Tina Karol and Verka Serduchka — all past Eurovision competitors.

Now in its 67th year, Eurovision bills itself as the world’s biggest music contest — an Olympiad of party-friendly pop. Each competitor has three minutes to combine catchy songs and eye-popping spectacle The best performers are those who have the ability to win over millions of viewers.

Loreen’s anthem about intense love was the betting favorite, and it won the majority of votes in the Eurovision voting system. She faced a strong challenge from Käärijä, a wildly energetic performer whose rap-pop party anthem “Cha Cha Cha” won the public vote.

Israel’s Noa Kirel came in third with power-pop anthem “Unicorn,” while Italy’s Marco Mengoni was fourth with his ballad “Due Vite” (Two Lives).

The diverse tastes of the continent was on display in this contest. Portugal’s Mimicat performed cabaret, Poland’s Blanka sang Britney’s power pop, France’s La Zarra sang Edith Piaf-esque echoes, and Cyprus’ Andrew Lambrou sang a smoldering song.

From Australia — a Eurovision contender despite its far-away location — guitar band Voyager evoked head-banging ’80s stadium rock. Croatia’s Let 3 offered a surreal antiwar rock opera, and Austrian duo Teya & Salena sent up the music industry in Poe-referencing song “Who the Hell is Edgar?”

Electronica duo Tvorchi paid tribute to Ukraine’s resilience on “Heart of Steel,” coming sixth.

Britain’s Mae Muller drew the unenviable final performance slot of the night with her jaunty breakup anthem “I Wrote a Song.” She came in second to last place — but at least avoided the humiliation of getting “nul points,” or zero points.

While votes were cast and counted, Sam Ryder, last year’s runner-up for Britain, performed his new single “Mountain,” accompanied by Queen drummer Roger Taylor. A “Liverpool Songbook” segment featured past Eurovision stars performing songs from the city, including John Lennon’s “Imagine,” “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” by Dead or Alive and the unofficial civic anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone” — with the audience joining in, as a tribute to both Liverpool and Ukraine.

About 6,000 people watched the show in the stadium, while tens and thousands more watched it at events on large screens across the U.K. and a Liverpool Fan Zone. Global television audiences are estimated to be 160 million.

Under spring sunshine, fans flocked in their thousands to a Eurovision party zone in the city’s dockside area ahead of the contest. Many fans were dressed in the flags of their favorite nations or as their favourite acts.

“Just to come down and see people from all different nationalities, all different cultures — it’s good fun,” said Australian Martin Troedel, sporting a kangaroo on his hat. “Frankly there’s some quite odd acts, which is what I love about it. You never know what to expect.”

Liverpool welcomed Eurovision as well as Ukraine. Local businesses displayed Ukrainian flags throughout the city, while cultural events were held to introduce locals the music, art and cuisine of this eastern European nation.

But organizers claimed that they had turned down a request from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Make a video message. The European Broadcasting Union said that would breach “the nonpolitical nature of the event.”

Founded in 1956, Eurovision is a European cultural institution that has produced breakout stars — ABBA and Celine Dion are both past winners – alongside performers whose careers sank without a trace.

It has become an important platform for launching stars in recent years. Italian rock band Måneskin, who won in 2021, have played major U.S. festivals and opened for the Rolling Stones on tour. Ryder had a No. Ryder has had a No.

“Now, the music industry, the world, knows that if you appear at Eurovision, you could be in for a great thing,” said Steve Holden, host of the official Eurovision Song Contest podcast.


Follow AP for Eurovision coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/eurovision-song-contest And of the war at Ukraine https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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